If you have a child who is having sleep problems, or if you have read anything about children’s sleep, you have probably heard the term “Drowsy But Awake” and how important it is. But why is putting your baby down drowsy but awake so important? And what does drowsy but awake look like anyway?!
Why is putting my baby down drowsy but awake important?
If you’ve been reading posts and tips from me or other sleep specialists, you probably already know that no one sleeps totally through the night without waking at all. If you didn’t already know that, now you do! We all have partial awakenings we go through when we switch through sleep cycles and babies and children have these as well. So if your baby or child was totally asleep when put down at bedtime and then they have a partial awakening, it is likely that they will need help being put down again. I say likely, because it isn’t always the case. My daughter was sleeping through the night at a couple months old and I was nursing her completely to sleep. If this is your case, still keep reading, because it may not always work that way. And at some point you will probably have to put your child down awake. I have used this analogy before so hopefully you aren’t too tired of it, but I think of it like this – If I fall asleep in my nice warm cozy bed (or a baby in their parent’s arms) and then have a partial awakening and wake up outside in a lawn chair (or for a baby in their crib all alone), not only am I not going to be able to fall back asleep, I’m going to wonder what the heck happened and wake totally up! So if your child falls asleep eating or being held or rocked, they will probably expect that when they wake during the night. (This is not taking into account newborns and babies that still need to eat during the night – this doesn’t apply totally to them).
What does drowsy but awake mean?
Ok, so hopefully you understand why your baby should be put down drowsy but awake. But what exactly what does drowsy but awake mean? There is a trick to putting your baby down drowsy but awake. You do not want them too tired that they just close their eyes and fall right asleep (although if your baby has never been put down awake and you are sleep coaching, you may start with that). You do want your baby to have at least several minutes of awake time before they fall asleep. And you want them to be nice and relaxed and calm when put down. If you are doing this for the first time, your baby may not be very calm and relaxed, but for this discussion we are talking about what the ideal drowsy but awake looks like. If you find you are putting your baby down drowsy but awake consistently and they still wake during the night, and they have no other crutches like a pacifier or eating, they may be too drowsy when you put them down.
Do you have questions about any of this? Remember, drowsy but awake is the goal, but if your baby is going to bed already asleep now, there are steps to be taken before getting to drowsy but awake. Contact me if you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute phone call to discuss how I can help you get to that point!